Yin and Yang

A Story of Two Rolex Explorer IIs

The Rolex Explorer II has long been one of the most popular Rolex Sport models, and for good reason. This Watches auction includes two particularly impressive Explorer II examples: one a black reference 16570 and the other a white reference 16550. Both of these watches feature special dial configurations that are incredibly rare.

While one Explorer II watch appears to be a standard black dial 16570, a sharply defined Tiffany & Co. stamp is visible on the face upon closer inspection, indicating that it was retailed by the famed American jeweler. The other Explorer II has a "white" dial that is in reality cream! The mythical cream 16550 has long been touted by Rolex historians and collectors as the most beautiful dial created on a sports model.

With the dial configurations on these Rolex watch models both so uncommon, which Explorer II do you prefer? Would you rather have one line of extra text, bearing a high-end retailer's name, or a dial in a unique, cream hue?

Tiffany & Co. Watch Dial

One-Hit Wonder or Here to Stay?

Over the last four years, Tiffany & Co. dial watches have increased in popularity, sometimes garnering as much as ten times the original retail value. Basically, these are any old Rolex watch that has been stamped with 'Tiffany & Co.' on the dial. Usually, the logo is stamped right above six o'clock or right under twelve o'clock below the Rolex coronet and logo.

In the late 1950s, Rolex and Tiffany & Co. struck up a joint branding and marketing deal. The very early Tiffany & Co. dials were stamped by hand in the New York City flagship boutique on 5th Avenue, but later other major locations began stamping as well. Rolex stopped making stamped dials of any kind in the early 1990s and for a very long time these watches were not coveted by collectors.

During the last fifteen years, an overwhelming amount of scholarship has been produced on these dial variations; this has inevitably increased their value and popularity. The last five years, as the watch market has grown exponentially, the demand for Tiffany & Co. dials has exploded to unprecedented levels.

The present example features beautifully patinated dial markers that are natural, a sign of a watch that has aged gracefully. The Tiffany & Co. logo here is at six o'clock, making the dial symmetrical and nearly perfect. The desirability of these dials will very likely only increase due to the fact that Rolex no longer produces double-signed dials in any shape or form.

Rolex

In 1905, at age 24, German businessman Hans Wilsdorf founded a company with Alfred Davis called Wilsdorf & Davis in London with the goal of selling high-quality, affordable timepieces. Three years later, he and Davis registered the brand name Rolex in Switzerland with a singular vision: quality, good-looking watches. Wilsdorf created the first watch to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision in 1910. In 1914, he changed the name of the company to The Rolex Watch Company and several years later he moved their headquarters to Geneva, Switzerland, where the company remains to this day.

Rolex is likely the most recognizable watch in the world, and for good reason. The “Crown” (as it is affectionately called by collectors) it is in many ways the brand to which all other brands are compared. Rolex’s “firsts” are myriad and include the first waterproof watch in 1926 and the first self-winding mechanism in 1931. They are not the oldest watchmaker, nor are they the most exclusive, and certainly not the most expensive. However, when one thinks watches the first name that often comes to mind is Rolex, in large part due to it having been the timepiece of choice for athletes and adventurers.

In 1927, a Rolex Oyster made it across the English Channel on the wrist of swimmer, and in 1953, a Rolex survived Sir Edmund Hillary’s Mount Everest conquest. The dive into the Mariana Trench and the James Cameron Deepsea Expedition are two more examples of where a Rolex came out unscathed. The company also designed watches specifically for pilots, navigators, and world travelers.

It can be argued that every single model in the Rolex lineup is iconic, from the Submariner to the Daytona. For as long as Rolex has existed, the company has been synonymous with sport, adventure, luxury, and royalty. Some of the most famous names in history have donned a Rolex including Sir Winston Churchill, Paul Newman, and Roger Federer.

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